It was as if Game 2 was a one-man show by Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo is coming back for Game 3 and Atlanta could be without forward Josh Smith when the Boston Celtics host the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.
Pierce managed to get 36 points and 14 rebounds in Boston’s 87-80 victory that tied the series on Tuesday, a contest that Rondo missed after he drew a one-game suspension for bumping official Marc Davis in Game 1. Smith strained a left knee tendon in Game 2, resulting in patellar tendinitis. He’s not going to be expected on Game 3.
Atlanta Hawks at Boston Celtics
When: 7:30 PM ET, Friday, May 4, 2012
Where TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
The Celtics are the favorites on several sports book sites online with 7.5 points. NBA playoffs betting is definitely getting hotter as games progress, don’t forget to take your pick wisely.
The Hawks may have trouble without the presence of Smith, they are also without the help of frontcourt players Al Horford (pectoral) and Zaza Pachulia (foot). Smith is averaging 19 and 15 rebounds in the series and has been the Hawks’ top player over the second half of the season. Larry Drew said “He’s certainly a key component in order for us to have success,”. The Atlanta coach continued “Obviously, we already have both centers out, and now we’re looking at our starting power forward possibly being injured.
The Celtics had their revenge as they bounce back from a pathetic Game 1 to register one of the top playoff efforts of Pierce’s stellar career – an impressive feat considering he was a marked man with both Rondo and Ray Allen (guard) out of the lineup. Pierce scored just 12 points in the opener on 5-of-9 shooting. Allen is questionable to play in Game 3. Coach Doc Rivers cited his team’s experience as being a prime factor in why Boston was able to even the series while shorthanded. “We’ve won games this year without some of our key players,” Rivers said “This is a tough-minded basketball team, and having a lot of veterans on your team helps with that.”
Things to note in this game:
The Celtics missed their first 19 3-point attempts in the series and are 3 for 25 overall.
Scoring has been tough for both teams – the Hawks are averaging 81.5 points and Boston is at 80.5.
NBA Playoffs Betting Prediction: Celtics 91, Hawks 85